20 years ago, animated films were widely perceived as cartoons for children. Today, animation is flourishing, encompassing an astonishing range of films, styles and techniques. There is the powerful adult drama of Waltz with Bashir, the Gallic sophistication of Belleville Rendez-Vous, the eye-popping violence of Japan's Akira, and the stop-motion whimsy of Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Andrew Osmond provides an entertaining and illuminating guide to the endlessly diverse styles, cultures and visions of the genre, with entires on 100 of the most interesting and important animated films from around the world, from the 1920s to the present day.
There are key studio brands such as Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks, but there are also recognised auteur directors such as America's Brad Bird (The Incredibles) and Japan's Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away). Technologies such as motion-capture, as used in films such as The Polar Express, controversially blur the distinctions between live-action and animation. Meanwhile, lone artists such as Nina Paley (Sita Sings the Blues) and Bill Plympton (Idiots and Angels) make entire films by themselves.
Blending in-depth history and criticism, this book balances the commercial blockbusters with local success stories from Eastern Europe to Hong Kong. There are entries on Dreamworks' Shrek, Pixar's Toy Story and Disney's Jungle Book, but you will also find pieces on Germany's silhouette-based The Adventures of Prince Achmed, the oldest surviving animated feature, on the 30-year production of Richard Williams' legendary opus The Thief and the Cobbler, and on the lost work of Argentina's Quinto Cristiani, who reputedly made the first animated feature in 1917.
Andrew Osmond is a freelance journalist and has written for a range of publications including Sight & Sound, Empire, SFX and the Guardian. He is the author of a BFI Film Classic on Spirited Away (2008).
Entertaining guide to the diverse styles, cultures and visions of the genre, with entries on 100 of its most interesting or important examples.